CONCORD, N.C. - Even when things haven't been going well for them, Lowe's Motor Speedway has been pretty good to Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers.
But as good as both were in Thursday's Coca-Cola 600 qualifying at the 1.5-mile track, they could not beat Kyle Busch.
Then again, hardly anybody does these days.
Busch ran a lap at 185.433 mph to win the pole for Sunday's race, putting his No. 18 Toyota on the point here for the second time in two weeks. Busch and his team also won the pole for last week's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge.
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"It's pretty cool," Busch said. "We're pretty excited to be in the place we're in."
There's no reason not to be. Busch has won three Cup races, three Nationwide races and two Truck series races this season and has emerged as the sport's most talked-about - if not most beloved - driver.
He dominated Saturday's all-star race until his engine went sour. After Busch fell out, Kahne rallied in the final segment after having won a fan vote to get into the all-star event to take the victory and a $1 million check.
Kahne hadn't won in a Cup car since a victory here in the October 2006 race, but even during the 2007 season one of a disappointingly low eight top-10 finishes came here last fall - an eighth.
"I have always enjoyed racing here and I have always enjoyed testing," said Kahne, who ran 185.300 mph in his No. 9 Dodge.
"There are certain tracks where you know what it feels like when the car needs what it has to go fast. It seems like we can find it when we're testing here."
Vickers finished 10th here in the fall of 2006. Last year, as his new Red Bull Racing team struggled, Vickers led this race for 76 laps and finished fifth for his best showing of the season. But the No. 83 Toyota didn't qualify for the race here in October.
"Somebody asked me one time what it is I do at a certain track to make it so good for me," Vickers said after posting the third-best speed at 185.429 mph. "If I knew that I would do it every week.
"Every driver has a unique driving style and every track accepts a certain style, the way you roll out of gas and get on the brake and things like that. It's how you drive it. This is one place that has been good for me."
It has not, however, been particularly good to Busch. He has never finished on the lead lap of the Coca-Cola 600 and his third-place finish here in October was only his second finish of better than 25th in eight Cup starts at the track.
He finished 24th in the all-star race Saturday. His Joe Gibbs Racing team used an engine package that included all Joe Gibbs Racing parts for the first time this year, after having used engines assembled by the team but using some Toyota Racing Development components. The team will go back to the proven package for Sunday's 600-mile race.
"Actually this is probably my favorite race track," Busch said. He does have two Nationwide and two Truck Series victories here. "But the Cup series has kind of eluded me here. ...It has been a struggle in the 600. I can't seem to get to when the lights come on. I seem to wreck in the daytime."
Greg Biffle will start fourth after a lap at 184.970 mph. David Ragan and Dale Earnhardt Jr. start on Row 3, followed in the top 10 by Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler and Jimmie Johnson.
Defending Coca-Cola 600 champion Casey Mears starts 21st, just behind Sam Hornish Jr. who was fastest among the go-or-go-home cars.
Jeff Green, Stanton Barrett, Jon Wood, Joe Nemechek and Tony Raines failed to make the field.